It had been awhile since I had backpacked. How long? Well, let’s put it this way: the last time I got out my middle son (Walker) was just a tiny start, I didn’t know I was even pregnant then. It was 3 years and 50 weeks or so ago (not that I was counting..ya know….), I backpacked my last trip, on a section of the PCT.
I knew that was going to be a tradeoff for having more children. When Kirk and I talked about having more kids, I painfully acknowledged my hiking life would change dramatically. Then the kids came along, months slipped by, into years, and suddenly I had a 3-year-old and a 16 month old. Dayhiking filled the hollows in my life, especially between the babies…but it isn’t the same. With our youngest son’s severe food allergies I am not ready to take him into the backcountry overnight. I need to find my comfort level first with him. But me? Thankfully Kirk pushed me out the door and told me to go. I know some parents haul all their kids with them, but where I could do that with 1 teen and 1 little one, it was just too much planning to take a teen and two small ones.
With hot weather predicted (and showed up), and wanting my first trip back to be a happy one, I picked a trail I knew would make me and my friend Dani happy. Thankfully we both love temperate rain forests and river hikes, especially in hot weather. Where did we go? Carbon River, at Mt. Rainier NP. Every year the old road, and now permanent trail, changes. This year the bridges have become amazing feats, the trail slowly is becoming smooth, with few rough sections left. Far different from back in early 2007 when it was torn into pieces by the horrific flooding. The river has changed channels, as it does often. Life goes on, for both it and for me. It simply felt like home though.
The Salmon Berries were everywhere and many were ripe, some even burgundy-red (of which maybe I should have taken a photo instead of eating them first…). They were even sweet, with that wild bitter taste under, of which I love so much.
The wild flowers were opening up, the rain and then the hot sun just popped everything.
I love when a clear creek or river runs into a glacial till filled one! A side channel of the Carbon River runs down the old road bed this year, meeting a creek that comes off the cliffs, with a bridge to stand on and look down from.
Looking up the Carbon River valley.
My gear was interesting I realized that OK, this is how folks get stagnant on their choices. Outside of dayhiking items, I have bought very little new gear in teh past 4 years. If anything, I had never slept on my NeoAir mattress! So it was like having new gear at least 😉
I love the old car campground, that is now a backcountry camp. Not only is it huge, one gets picnic tables, bike lockups, massive bear lockers (they are nice) and toilets that only vaguely stink at night (solar-powered fans). And the sites are far apart enough one just doesn’t hear others very much – especially with the river behind it.
The Lupine was neat looking, I don’t think I have seen it like this before, with such long stems! Maybe because of growing under the partial shade of massive cedars?
Dani had not hiked on this section of the Wonderland Trail, so after we set up camp I took her to one of my favorite areas. Having hiked this before the road became a trail, this corner wasn’t peaceful. It was always mobbed and over run. Now? It is quiet. You step on the Wonderland and it feels right.
And something about being without my kids meant I could stop and look at everything, but also we were not in a rush.
I took her to the signed but often overlooked side trail to Ipsuit Creek/Ipsuit Falls.
Dani enjoying the suddenly very cool temperatures+ in the canyon. It is always cold back there. Everything is vivid green
The waterfall was at the highest I have seen, thundering down. So very enjoyable!
This plant holds on, year after year, on a corner of The Wonderland Trail.
As evening came, it actually got quite chilly, so we walked around to keep warm, and enjoyed the quiet – and the flowers.
Another thing….as I watched Dani filter water for the evening, I realized I had happily carried my water filter with me this trip. I hadn’t carried one in 6 or 7 years. Working out at the gym with my trainer for the past year has made me strong – and more inclined to carry creature comforts. Worth the pain and muscle soreness I say!
I realized in the morning just how much I had missed waking up in a tent, especially when I could lay there and look at the trees and sky above me, through the door.
There is something peaceful about a lazy breakfast, as the sun pours down the ridge. No need to rush, just us sitting there, listening to the ravens.
Little plants, covering everything….
And trees so very wide….
And some trees so silver, in a sea of green.
It is good to be back.